The Sun Sentinel's Dave Hyde picked the wrong damned time to coddle Dan Marino.
Five days before the New York Post broke the Marino love-child story, Hyde wrote a piece on the Dolphins quarterback's work with autism.
And that's cool. However, the first paragraph in that column read thusly:
People always lament how sports stars aren't heroes like they used to be. Lance Armstrong lies. Tiger Woods stains his name. The entire Baseball Hall of Fame ballot is at issue.
But what if everyone's telling the wrong stories?
The French existentialist philosopher and writer Jean-Paul Charles once said, "Better a good journalist than a poor assassin."
And this is exactly what's happening here with Hyde and the Sentinel and pretty much every other daily down here.
A day after the Marino news broke -- a story by a non-South Florida media outlet, no less -- Hyde is back to doing what he does. Namely, writing a puffer about how Marino is flawed like the rest of us.
"You wanted to hope," Hyde writes in today's column. "That's why Thursday's news was a slap to the senses. You wanted to hope Dan Marino was beyond this. You wanted to hope his good work all these years reflected someone out of the reach of gossip pages."
All true. Marino, like so many other sports heroes, is flawed. But he is still a decent dude overall yada yada yada.
But the point here is what's been problematic with Hyde and most SoFla dailies (particularly with the Dolphins).
And the problem is this: WHERE THE SHIT IS THE REAL JOURNALISM?
While he was banging away yet another puff piece on Marino, recalling how Lance Armstrong is a horrible human person and Tiger Woods stained his pants, er something, with his extramarital screwups, the Post was putting together a story about the same man that today is all over local and national news.
The follow-up for the Sentinel: "Marino is a human like you and me, man because HEROES."
This isn't a call for Hyde to be a part of the moral police brigade (that's equally annoying); it just speaks of where hard-ass journalism has gone in this town.
Particularly skepticism. Rumors and stories of Marino's (and other local star athletes) many extramartial affairs have always made the rounds in journalistic circles (insanely wealthy good-looking men love to have lots and lots of sex with women?? GASP!).
These dudes know the deal. One local journo (who shall remain nameless) once told us they believe Marino's wife Claire's punishment for his screwing up again and again was to adopt Chinese orphans. This might be a load of bullshit. But it behooves guys with access to maybe sniff around. Guys like Hyde -- who actually wrote a book with Marino.
Yet it's a paper in New York that is breaking the love-child story.
To a smaller degree, we see the same attitude from local dailies on the Miami Dolphins franchise. Aside from maybe the Herald's Armando Salguero, there has been little actual critical writing on how shitty the team has been, particularly GM Jeff Ireland.
The Palm Beach Post's Ben Volin is always quick to point out the team's "draft values" (whatever the hell that might mean in the face of constant 7-9 finishes) and how good a player like Anthony Fasano is, while the Sentinel's Omar Kelly is busy yelling and being rude at his Twitter followers.
Then there's Hyde, who puts an exclamation point on all this with his unfortunately timed Marino autism piece.
"Journalism is literature in a hurry," English poet Matthew Arnold once said.
Down here in South Florida -- at least with the dudes who cover the biggest pro sports team in town -- it's more like a guy taking a stroll through the park and then falling asleep on a bench.